How to Combat the Driver Shortage in 2017

The truck driver shortage is a problem, but it’s not a new one. It began over 15 years ago. The recession that followed the housing market crash of 2007 eliminated the deficit temporarily, but it came roaring back a few years ago when the economy began to recover.

Today, the American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates that the trucking industry could use another 40,000 drivers. That shortfall will only increase over the next decade as retiring drivers and industry growth increase the demand for more drivers. In fact, if nothing changes, the driver shortage could reach a shocking 175,000 by 2024, according to estimates from the ATA.

Why is there a shortage?

There is a two-fold problem that the trucking industry must address if the driver shortage is to be alleviated: Enticing a younger generation to consider driving as a career and finding ways to retain the current driver workforce.

A recent survey identified the primary reasons truck drivers are leaving their jobs. These include:

  • higher pay;
  • more time with family;
  • better benefits;
  • retirement plan; and
  • different types of work.

These results help to explain why driving a truck as a career does not appeal to a younger generation, who typically feel as though the reasons listed above are basic necessities of a career.

The good news: There are solutions

Past generations have not placed as much emphasis on balancing work and life as today’s young people do. Unless the trucking industry begins to consider this change of attitude in their candidates, they will continue to witness a burgeoning driver shortage. Here are some suggestions for attracting and retaining quality drivers:

  1. Better pay. Driving a truck can be a rewarding career, but it is also demanding. If the compensation does not match or exceed that of less demanding jobs, the exodus will continue.
  2. Improve the image of the truck driver. Many young people see truck drivers in a negative light. Combine that with their disdain for blue-collar work, and it becomes apparent why they are reluctant to pursue a trucking career. Companies need to take advantage of digital recruiting, where they can highlight the benefits and importance of a trucking career while polishing the drivers’ image.
  3. Look to the military. The ATA has been at the forefront of supporting veterans by transitioning them into careers in trucking. The organization, on behalf of the trucking industry, has committed to hiring 100,000 veterans by the end of 2016.
  4. More training. Comprehensive training programs may be the key to retaining drivers and increasing job satisfaction. Most drivers quit in their first year. Better training could shorten their learning curve and prevent many of the frustrations that new drivers encounter.

To learn more strategies for overcoming the driver shortage, or to begin searching for your next trucking job, contact a CDS specialist today.

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